NV25 Blog: 06-21

Last updated 2022-07-04


Last check on weather at the Gillespie’s home and filed a flightplan (as ‘Skylark 2′, of course), airborne at 07h48 local and off into stunning visibility and high ceilings which allowed a direct route to be taken towards CYXC (Cranbrooke) without following the VFR route which would be used when obscuring ceilings are present. As I progressed I encounterd a layer of small Cu cloud between about 6,000′ and 7,500′ which passed below me as I climbed up to 9,500’, Initially SCT the cloud deck became 5+ okta as I progressed eastwards. It remained clear to the south, which gave me confidence to continue direct whilst I could confidently recognise ground features. Eventually, sure that I had the correct valley identified, I climbed to 10,500 to clear a ridge and descend towrds CYXC. Great thanks to Dave G for his mentoring on the VFR route. I felt like I knew it even though I never flew it!

On landing CYXC I had the opportunity to meet Robert Davidson (nephew of one Neil Davidson, whom some will know because of his Tiger Moth and BTH mag support services). Robert had in the past looked after Bob Fassold’s Chipmunk, 18025/CF-RRI, and was present with Bob at Downsview in 1997 when the Northern Venture pair arrived. What a great connection to make on this trip. Regrettably I had a plan to stick to and had to press on, turning south on the VFR route only long enough to climb sufficiently to be able to corner-cut by ridge hopping and taking the more direct route out of the Rockies into the Prairies. Its astonishing how quickly the rocks get left behind and the terrain flattens, all in but a few miles. Crossing the Rockies had been an exhilarating flight, and very satisfying to have navigated over and through the cloud layer.

Lethbridge was a quick turn (thank you Air West) and weather check – rain that had appeard to be likely to hinder progress towrds Prince Albert seemed to be favourably moving along, allowing me to turn towards Saskatoon, rather than keep to a more southerly route towards Medicine Hat and Swift Current.

Kindersley (CYKY) was a necessary fuel stop to make Saskatoon. It had a very weird fueling process with a computer-based system in the admin office and then a trot to the pump to get it turned on. Failed the first time before it timed me out! Once fueled though, onwards to Saskatoon (CYXE) where Dave G had set me up to be met by friends at the Saskatchewan Aviation Museum. That would have been fine except that a misunderstanding of the day of arrival meant there was no-one there! Fortunately Matt, a CFI at Mitchinson Flight Centre, came over to look at the Chipmunk and helped me position and tie her down on some grass and concrete-filled tyres, then took me to a hotel. I then surveyed three adjacent hotels before finding one which had a restaurant. I didn’t need to be going anywhere else today!

Stats: 5.6 hrs flown, 7.2 hrs logged, 592 track miles

Skylark2 departing Oliver (Photo: Dave Gillespie)
Out of Oliver, eastbound. Stunning visibility.
The crew (Li’l B on the deck), enjoying the ride over the rocks
9,500′ on top
CYXC: Robert Davidson re-united with WP833 after 25 years!
(Photo: Friendly Bystander)
Robert very kindly gave me this RAF roundel pin
which he had received when the NV team visited Downsview in 1997
Outbound from CYXC, amazing sedimentry strata tilted at 45 degrees
… and then in a matter of miles its all over. Here come the prairies.
Could be a fern, or maybe a frost pattern, but actually a drainage system from about 4,000′
No idea how long it takes to form an ox-bow lake, probably thousands or even tens of thousands of years,
but this one seems about half-way through the process.
Zapped (at Lethbridge) !
Secured at Saskatoon, the Saskatchewan Aviation Museum behind